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Being 'Slightly Fat' Could Save Your Life

by Maressa Brown on January 2, 2013 at 2:56 PM

woman on scaleHey, you, New Year's resolution-maker! Hold it right there. Before attacking that shiny new weight loss goal by heading to the gym (likely for the first time in months or EVER, which you must know drives those of us who have been devoted on a daily basis for months or years up a wall), check this out. A new analysis of nearly three million people, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., suggests that people who are "moderately overweight" are actually better off than "normal" weight folks. As in, people classified as overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9) have a lower risk of premature death than people who are at a so-called normal weight. And among people who were over-65, even the highly obese had no extra mortality risk. Whoa. Who could have seen that coming?!

Yeah, this news is at odds with everything we've ever been told to think (around this time of year especially!). But that's what makes it utterly refreshing and important to consider.

As we launch ourselves into "New Year, New You!"-branded crash diets, extreme detoxes, grueling unrealistic workout regimens, all in an attempt to "lose five more pounds" or fit some societal "norm," it's particularly relevant information. Because this study proves that maybe carrying around those five or ten pounds you're suddenly flipping out about probably won't hurt you in the grand scheme of things. In fact! It may HELP you! Crazy, I know.

More from The Stir: The Secret to Losing Weight This Year Is Easier Than You Think

Experts offer various stabs in the dark for why this may be the case: Docs may treat overweight people more aggressively for blood pressure or cholesterol problems, having a bit more padding may make you less prone to osteoporosis and in turn make you less likely to take a tumble, extra pounds provide energy reserves in cases of a severe illness (meaning if you are a bit overweight you may do better with heart failure or kidney failure than a thinner person), etc.

In the end, it seems that there's a very fine line between this "healthier" sort of overweight and the dive into obesity and heart risk and all that'll ail -- and worst case scenario, kill -- you. And this research won't alter any expert's opinion that we should all do whatever it takes to be the "perfect weight" for our respective heights, according to some government-issued chart, lest we get SUPERFAT and die! (Ugh.) Maybe it should. Maybe it should make us put the numbers aside and try to zero in on what really matters: wellness, longevity, strength, etc. At the very least, it should prove to us that weighing less is not necessarily, always more.

What do you make of this research? Could it change your New Year's resolution?


Filed Under: weight loss, eating healthy, general health


  • Cass
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM
    You know what drives *me* up a wall? Self-righteous people who think that they own the gym because they've been going longer. You had a first day in the gym too- and you don't get to feel superior to people who happen to start the new year by trying to get healthy.
  • LB
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM
    People should note that the majority of the "normal weight" group are sick or dying. Doesn't make for a purposeful study. At all.
  • Jamie
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 2, 2013 at 3:34 PM
    I agree with Cass. I only go to the gym when its cold, because I can't do as much outside where I live. But I get the "you're just going to quit in a month" hate. Knock it off!
  • the4m...


    January 2, 2013 at 7:35 PM
    Nobody cares what you think about "new years" gym goers.
    I have no new years resolution, but this will be the first year since I had my 5y/o that I will have the money for a monthly membership. So shut it with the new member hate.
    As to the topic at hand: I've never been one to listen to some BMI chart, or some dr complaining about my extra lbs.
    I go by how my body feels, and it feels better when I'm about 10-15lbs over my "ideal" weight. I exercise & eat right to feel good, not to meet some goal that someone set for me in the form of a chart or %rating compared to the rest of the world.
  • paren...


    January 2, 2013 at 8:56 PM
    Please. You would probably bitch or fat shame people who never go at all. What should they do to pleas you? Just stay home with their wii fit because you own the gym?
  • PonyC...


    January 2, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Does this news surprise me? No. And it won't surprise anyone who has been looking at ALL sides of this "obesity epidemic" crap, rather than just listening to the mainstream media and the fashion industry. Those people will have you believe that Angelina Jolie needs to lose a good 40 lbs, and she's sickeningly skinny.

    There's a lot more that makes up "good health" than a number on a scale. And it's about time that people start to realize that.

  • MamaB...


    January 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM


  • GwenMB


    January 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Its not going to change my plans to lose weight because regardless, I know I need to lose some.

  • Madel...


    January 4, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    I need to lose some!

  • dusky...


    January 4, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    After watching my SIL fight lung cancer and lose, I can see why having a few extra pounds on you would be a plus, since fighting an illness leads to an unhealthy weight loss, if you are already at your "ideal" weight.

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